I was absolutely thrilled to be offered the opportunity to become a Glass Explorer late in 2013. As a long term lover and early adopter of tech gadgets of all description, I had been fascinated by Glass ever since I first heard about it.
The concept of information available literally right before your eyes intrigued me, and immediately offered up loads of potential applications in the healthcare space, where ready accessibility to information is a key component of delivering patient care.
There has been a lot of criticism about the ‘wearability’ of this particular style of wearable tech, with many commentators suggesting that it will never take off until a more aesthetically pleasing design is developed. Personally, I don’t have any problem with the current design and find it quite appealing in a kind of geek-cool way, but I also think this becomes way less of an issue in the healthcare setting where instruments and equipment of one form or another are quite commonly ‘worn.’
The two most easily identifiable application types for Glass in Healthcare are driven by the ability to deliver information to the wearer, and the ability for the wearer to easily broadcast information to other interested parties.
In the acute setting, trials and prototype programs are already underway. These are assessing the impact that Glass can have in delivering information, such as patient vital signs sent directly to the eyeline of clinicians without the need to move or even turn their head to access. The benefits here being fairly obvious – as outlined in the great proof of concept video produced by Phillips Healthcare linked below.
The capability to easily take a photo and save or send it, or make a video call where the other party is able to see exactly what the wearer is viewing opens up a raft of consultation and collaboration opportunities, not to mention the training applications.
All of this is very easy to imagine in the acute care setting, with the benefits to the pharmacists on the team just as important and tangible as to any of the other clinicians.
In the community pharmacy setting, the thinking needs to get a little more creative, but I firmly believe that just as many benefits are deliverable.
For the sole practitioner pharmacist, the ability to be able to dial in a colleague for a consult where not only is the visual available in real time but conversation able to be held concurrently is fantastic. Imagine as a young pharmacist being presented with a potential case of say – measles – which you haven’t previously seen outside of a text book, and being able to videocall one of your more experienced colleagues or the local GP to get a second opinion without the patient having to leave the pharmacy. In the new world where care must centre around how patients’ needs can best be catered for, if I was a mum with a sick child in tow having a video consult done on the spot without having to pack my child up and take it to another location would absolutely meet my needs.
Equally, imagine the ability to take a blood pressure or blood glucose reading, with a picture of the patient overlaid with the details of the reading. Being able to refer back to previous pictures enables changes in physical appearance to detected alongside the reading results. Does the patient look ‘sicker’ than they did last time?
If Glass was linked to dispense systems, it would also provide the pharmacist with the ability to call up relevant items in the patient’s history without needing to leave the person’s side. ‘Does this herbal supplement interact with any of my medicines? I’ll check right now for you via Glass.’ Again, Glass is meeting the needs of the busy patient who doesn’t want to wait while you head back to the dispensary and access their medication history.
Obviously I’m assuming that all of the issues around privacy and confidential transmission of data are resolved, but these are not insurmountable. As an industry we need to stop thinking about what we can’t do and start thinking about what we want to do, and finding ways to make that possible. For me, Glass is one of those ways. At APHS we are actively exploring how we can apply this exciting new technology in to benefit our customers. I would love to hear your thoughts around how you see Google Glass delivering value in your pharmacy or workplace.